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Optimal investment choices post-retirement in a defined contribution pension scheme

Gerrard, R. J. G., Haberman, S. & Vigna, E. (2004). Optimal investment choices post-retirement in a defined contribution pension scheme. Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, 35(2 SPEC), doi: 10.1016/j.insmatheco.2004.06.002


In defined contribution pension schemes, the financial risk is borne by the member. Financial risk occurs both during the accumulation phase (investment risk) and at retirement, when the annuity is bought (annuity risk). The annuity risk faced by the member can be reduced through the “income drawdown option”: the retiree is allowed to choose when to convert the final capital into pension within a certain period of time after retirement. In some countries, there is a limiting age when annuitization becomes compulsory (in UK this age is 75). In the interim, the member can withdraw periodic amounts of money to provide for daily life, within certain limits imposed by the scheme’s rules (or by law). In this paper, we investigate the income drawdown option and define a stochastic optimal control problem, looking for optimal investment strategies to be adopted after retirement, when allowing for periodic fixed withdrawals from the fund. The risk attitude of the member is also considered, by changing a parameter in the disutility function chosen. We find that there is a natural target level of the fund, interpretable as a safety level, which can never be exceeded when optimal control is used. Numerical examples are presented in order to analyse various indices — relevant to the pensioner — when the optimal investment allocation is adopted. These indices include, for example, the risk of outliving the assets before annuitization occurs (risk of ruin), the average time of ruin, the probability of reaching a certain pension target (that is greater than or equal to the pension that the member could buy immediately on retirement), the final outcome that can be reached (distribution of annuity that can be bought at limit age), and how the risk attitude of the member affects the key performance measures mentioned above.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: income drawdown option, stochastic optimal control, decumulation phase, immediate annuitization.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Departments: Bayes Business School
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